Discharge Instructions for Knee Arthroscopy

Discharge Instructions for Knee Arthroscopy

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Discharge Instructions for Knee Arthroscopy

You had knee arthroscopy. This surgical procedure uses small incisions to locate, identify, and treat problems inside the knee. These problems include loose bodies, bone spurs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), and synovitis. Below are tips to help speed your recovery from surgery.


  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK. And never drive while taking opioid pain medication.

  • Remember to take pain medications as directed; don’t wait for the pain to get bad. And don't drink alcohol while taking pain medications.

  • Follow weight-bearing instructions given by your doctor. He or she may require you to use crutches to keep weight off your knee.

  • Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, begin using the affected knee as much as you can tolerate 3 days after surgery.

  • Slowly bend and straighten your affected leg as far as you can, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Do this several times a day.

  • Rest your knee by lying down and putting pillows under it for the first 3 days after surgery. Keep your ankle elevated above the level of your heart. This helps keep swelling down.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about wearing and caring for a brace, immobilizer, or elastic dressing.

  • Point and flex your foot, and rotate your ankle as much as possible during the first few weeks following surgery. Also, wiggle your toes as much as possible.

Incision care

  • Check your incision daily for redness, tenderness, or drainage.

  • Don’t be alarmed if there is some bruising, slight swelling of the knee, or a small amount of blood on the bandage.

  • Adjust the bandage or brace as needed. It should feel supportive on your knee, but not too tight. 

  • Don’t soak your incision in water (no hot tubs, bathtubs, swimming pools) until your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Wait 2 day(s) after your surgery to begin showering. Then shower as needed. Cover your knee with plastic to keep the dressing or brace dry. Once your dressing is removed, follow your doctor’s instructions for care of the wound. And sit on a shower stool so that you don’t fall while showering.

  • Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas—or something similar—wrapped in a thin towel to reduce the swelling. Keep the foot elevated while you ice the knee. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes; then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed. Icing helps reduce swelling.

Other precautions

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in your bathroom.

  • Use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve, and you can put weight on your leg. And remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Free up your hands so that you can use them to keep balance. Use a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Severe nausea

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Pain that is not relieved by medication or rest

  • Continued bleeding through the bandage

  • Tingling, numbness, or coldness in your foot or leg

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.0°C) or shaking chills

  • Excessive swelling, increased redness, or any drainage around the incision

  • Swelling, tenderness, or pain in your leg